Our top ten Debbie Harry songs list presents ten of the best solo songs released by the face and voice of the legendary band Blondie. Born in 1945, Debbie Harry rose to fame as the lead vocalist of the punk rock/pop rock/new wave/disco band Blondie. Her charisma and incredible vocal delivery helped her band Blondie earn a cult following and success.
Debbie Harry has fronted Blondie in all of its incarnations throughout its eleven full-length studio albums. The singer takes pride in having contributed to the success of Blondie’s four number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Debbie Harry went ahead to earn success with her solo music career commenced in 1981.
Debbie Harry’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
During Blondie’s 1981 brief break from releasing new music, Debbie Harry went ahead to issue her debut studio album KooKoo. In the same year, former Blondie keyboardist and backing vocalist Jimmy Destri also issued his debut studio album Heart on a Wall. KooKoo was issued through Chrysalis Records, the label that had handled four of Blondie’s earlier releases. Debbie Harry’s debut studio album saw her venture into a blend of rock, new wave, disco, and pop sounds.
Working on the production of KooKoo were Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of the disco/funk band Chic. The album also featured brothers Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh of Devo on the backing vocals among a long list of other artists as additional personnel. KooKoo remains Debbie Harry’s most successful solo record to date, both commercially and in the mainstream.
The album managed to rise to position twenty-five on the Billboard 200, peaking at the sixth spot on the UK Albums Chart. KooKoo was also a success in Canada, Australia, Sweden, Norway, and New Zealand. The album earned gold certification in the US and Canada, managing silver certification in the UK. “Backfired,” “The Jam was Moving,” “Chrome,” and “Jump Jump” are the best Debbie Harry songs from KooKoo.
Other Album Releases by Debbie Harry over the Years
After the success of her debut studio album KooKoo, Debbie Harry returned to Blondie where the band issued its sixth studio album The Hunter in 1982. Unfortunately, Blondie went on a hiatus after this album, only to regroup in the late ‘90s. Debbie returned in 1986 with her sophomore studio album Rockbird. Rockbird was issued through Chrysalis Records in the UK and Geffen Records (once/current home to artists like Rise Against, Aimee Mann, Donna Summer, and Guns N’ Roses among others) in the US.
Debbie Harry’s sophomore studio album achieved mainstream success in the US where it graced the Billboard 200 chart rising to position ninety-seven. Rockbird also made it to the UK Albums Chart, rising to position thirty-one. The album achieved mild commercial success earning a gold certification in the UK. This rock/new wave record was produced by Seth Justman, a former member of The J. Geils Band.
“French Kissin’ in the USA,” “Free to Fall,” and “In Love with Love” are the most popular songs by Debbie Harry from the album Rockbird. Jocelyn Brown, Neil Jason, Chris Stein of Blondie, and Mickey Curry (known for his collaborative work with Bryan Adams) are the top artists featured as additional musicians on this record. Rockbird was followed by Once More into the Bleach, Debbie’s remix album featuring her solo songs and songs from her band. The 1988 remix album also featured two non-album singles by Debbie Harry including “Feel the Spin” and “Rush Rush.”
Def, Dumb, & Blonde, issued in 1989, marked Debbie Harry’s third studio album. The album made it to the twelfth spot on the UK Albums Chart, rising to number one hundred and twenty-three on the Billboard 200 Chart. Def, Dumb & Blonde was co-produced by several producers including Mike Chapman (known for his work with The Knack, Blondie, The Sweet, and Smokie) and Tom Bailey of Thompson Twins.
“I Want That Man,” “Maybe for Sure,” “Kiss It Better,” “Brite Side,” and “Sweet and Low” are the best Debbie Harry songs from Def, Dumb & Blonde. Geoff Dugmore (former member of The Europeans), Terry Bozzio (known for his work with Frank Zappa and Missing Persons), and Ian Astbury of The Cult are some of the additional personnel who helped Debbie Harry make her third studio album a success. Def, Dumb & Blonde earned gold certification in Australia and silver certification in the UK.
In 1993, Debbie Harry issued her fourth solo full-length studio album Debravation. The album was Debbie Harry’s last album issued through Chrysalis Records. Debravation failed to make it to the Billboard 200 but graced the UK Albums Chart, rising to the twenty-fourth spot. “I Can See Clearly,” “Strike Me Pink,” “Stability,” and “Communion” are the top musical gems by Debbie Harry from the album.
After fourteen years with no new solo studio album, Debbie Harry was back in 2007 with her fifth LP Necessary Evil. Necessary Evil was issued through Eleven Seven Label Group, a label (once) home to Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Apocalyptica, Pop Evil, and Hellyeah. The album made it to position eighty-six on the UK Albums Chart. “Two Times Blue,” “If I Had You,” “Charm Alarm,” and “You’re Too Hot” are the best Debbie Harry songs from the album Necessary Evil.
#10 – I Can See Clearly
Ushering us to the ten best Debbie Harry songs list is the up-tempo hit “I Can See Clearly.” The song was issued as the first single from Debravation, Debbie’s fourth solo full-length studio album. “I Can See Clearly” finds Debbie Harry crooning about having her life completed by the love of her life who she can’t live without.
The song features heavily dance elements which saw it grace the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart, peaking at number two. “I Can See Clearly” was a success on the UK Singles Chart where it peaked at number twenty-three. The song also made it to the ARIA Singles Chart, peaking at position ninety-six.
#9 – If I Had You
Over a decade after she issued a solo studio album, Debbie Harry returned in 2007 with her fifth LP, Necessary Evil. The hit “If I Had You” serves as the emblem of Debbie Harry’s excellence at her vocals on Necessary Evil. This track has lyrical contributions from Charles W. Nieland and Barb Morrison (known for their work with Rufus Wainwright, Blondie, and Franz Ferdinand).
“If I Had You” receives quite some competition from the first single of Necessary Evil, “Two Times Blue.” Other artists who have issued a song under the title “If I Had You,” albeit with different lyrical content, include Adam Lambert, Alabama, The Korgis, Karen Carpenter of The Carpenters, and Dire Straits.
#8- Feel the Spin
Coming in at the eighth spot on our ten best Debbie Harry songs list is the amazing hit “Feel the Spin.” The song is featured on Debbie Harry’s 1988 remix album Once More into the Bleach. Initially, the song featured on the soundtrack of the 1985 musical comedy-drama film Krush Groove. “Feel the Spin” was co-written by Debbie Harry in conjunction with producers Toni C. and John Benitez.
The production duo is also known for its prodigious work on the hit “Love Will Save the Day” by Whitney Houston. “Feel the Spin” made it to the Billboard Dance Singles Sales chart, peaking at number five. The song was also featured on Debbie Harry’s 1999 compilation album Most of All – The Best of Debbie Harry.
#7- Sweet and Low
“Sweet and Low” is one of the most sought-after hits off the singer’s third studio album Def, Dumb & Blonde. The song was penned by Toni C. and Debbie Harry with the duo co-producing the song with Chris Stein of Blondie. “Sweet and Low” had its music video directed by Stephen Sprouse, a designer who dressed Debbie Harry alongside other artists/bands including Duran Duran, and Billy Idol. The song was a mainstream success, rising to position fifty-seventh on the UK Singles Chart.
“Sweet and Low” also made it to the Billboard Dance Club Songs where it peaked at the seventeenth spot. The song graced the ARIA Singles Chart, peaking at number thirty. “Sweet and Low” was remixed by producer Phil Harding (known for his work with Elton John, Killing Joke, Dead or Alive, and Kiki Dee.
#6 – The Jam Was Moving
Number six on our ten best Debbie Harry songs list is the outstanding hit “The Jam Was Moving.” The song was penned by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic—The two teamed up once more in this song’s production work. “The Jam Was Moving” is featured on Debbie Harry’s debut studio album KooKoo. The song made it to the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at number eighty-two. Debbie Harry teamed up with Chris Stein of Blondie in releasing a remix version of this hit in 1988.
#5 – Rush Rush
Issued in 1983, “Rush Rush” is Debbie Harry’s first solo record since the breaking up of her band Blondie. The song is one of her two singles issued between KooKoo and Rockbird— “Rush Rush” is also Debbie Harry’s second collaborative work with the “Father of Disco,” Giorgio Moroder (known for work with Donna Summer, Berlin, David Bowie, Janet Jackson, and Kylie Minogue. This post-disco hit was featured on the soundtrack of the 1983 crime drama film Scarface.
“Rush Rush” went ahead to peak at number eighty-seven on the UK Singles Chart, missing entry to the Billboard Hot 100 by five spots. This song’s alluring dance elements saw it grace the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart rising to number twenty-eight. The song also made it to the ARIA Singles Chart and Canadian Top Singles Chart, peaking at number twenty-five and forty-two, respectively. “Rush Rush” was covered by Happy Mondays and The Electric Hellfire Club.
#4 – In Love with Love
“In Love with Love” is one of the most successful solo singles by Debbie Harry. The song is featured on the singer’s sophomore studio album Rockbird. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie penned its lyrics. “In Love with Love” features some synth-pop elements which added to its danceability—In fact, the song went on to top the Billboard Dance Club Songs (the only solo song by Debbie Harry to have done so).
“In Love with Love” went ahead to peak at number seventy on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also made it to the UK Singles Chart, managing a peak position of number forty-five. “In Love with Love” was remixed by the production trio Stock Aitken Waterman, best known for its phenomenal work with Dead or Alive, Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Bananarama, and Rick Astley.
#3 – Backfired
The third pick on our ten best Debbie Harry songs list is the radiant hit “Backfired.” “Backfired” marked the singer’s debut solo single, later featured on her debut studio album KooKoo. Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers of Chic penned the song. “Backfired” remains Debbie Harry’s highest-charting track on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number forty-three.
The song also made it to the UK Singles Chart, peaking at position thirty-two. Of course, Debbie Harry went ahead to issue more remarkable hits after “Backfired.” However, its impact as her debut solo single remains to date. Nile Rodgers, Chic’s lead guitarist, plays the guitar on this hit.
#2 – I Want That Man
If there is a song by Debbie Harry that was worth more success in the US mainstream (but never achieved it), then that would be “I Want That Man.” Probably, we could blame it all on the fact that the song is featured on the singer’s third studio album Def, Dumb & Blonde, which was less momentous compared to KooKoo and Rockbird. However, don’t get us wrong about this hit since some fans and critics have gone ahead to name it Debbie Harry’s best song.
They could not be so wrong with this song being Debbie Harry’s most streamed hit on Spotify. However, the song failed to grace the Billboard Hot 100 (but managed the second spot on the Billboard Alternative Airplay Chart). The song is Debbie Harry’s second highest-charting hit on the UK Singles Chart, rising to the thirteenth spot.
In Australia, “I Want This Man” is Debbie Harry’s highest-charting song, peaking at the second spot on the ARIA Singles Chart. The song also earned platinum certification in Australia proving to have been a commercial success too. “I Want That Man” finds Debbie Harry assertive about what she needs in life, including “that man.”
#1- French Kissin in the USA
Number one our ten best Debbie Harry songs list is the alluring hit “French Kissin’ in the USA.” The song was issued as the lead single to Rockbird, Debbie Harry’s sophomore studio album. “French Kissin in the USA” was penned by Chuck Lore with its production handled by Seth Justman. The song features three backing vocalists including Connie Harvey, La-Rita Gaskins, and Jocelyn Brown (who went ahead to launch a fairly successful solo career).
“French Kissin’ in the USA” is Debbie Harry’s solo single to have made it to most of the mainstream charts all over the world. The song is her second-highest release on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number fifty-seven. “French Kissin in the USA” is Debbie Harry’s highest-charting hit in the UK rising to the eighth spot.
Updated November 15, 2023
Top 10 Debbie Harry Solo Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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